New York trapper Tom Dobb becomes an unwilling participant in the American Revolution after his son Ned is drafted into the Army by the villainous Sergeant Major Peasy. Tom attempts to find... See full summary »
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New York trapper Tom Dobb becomes an unwilling participant in the American Revolution after his son Ned is drafted into the Army by the villainous Sergeant Major Peasy. Tom attempts to find his son, and eventually becomes convinced that he must take a stand and fight for the freedom of the Colonies, alongside the aristocratic rebel Daisy McConnahay. As Tom undergoes his change of heart, the events of the war unfold in large-scale grandeur. Written by
William Agee <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Misguided historical epic which comes up short in virtually every department.
Brilliant actor as he is, Al Pacino completely derails Revolution his Method acting approach is totally ill-suited to the role of an illiterate trapper caught up in the American War of Independence. Much of the blame should be attributed to director Hugh Hudson (yes, the man who made Chariots Of Fire just a couple of years earlier talk about a come-down!!). One of the many jobs of a director is to marshal the actors, coaxing believable performances from them, but in this case Hudson has allowed Pacino to run amok without asking for restraint of any kind. It's not just Al's career-low performance that hinders the film though: there are numerous other flaws with Revolution, more of which will be said later.
Illiterate trapper Tom Dobb (Al Pacino) lives in the north-eastern region of America with his son Ned (Sid Owen/Dexter Fletcher). He leads a simple life living off the land, raising his son, surviving against the elements. The country is lorded over by the English colonialists, but during an eight year period (1775-83) a revolution takes place which ends with the British being defeated and the independent American nation being born. Dobb gets caught up in the events when his boat and his son are conscripted by the Continental Army swept away by events they can barely understand, the Dobbs finds themselves fighting for their lives and freedom in one bloody engagement after another. Tom also falls in love with Daisy McConnahay (Natassja Kinski), a beautiful and fiery woman of British aristocratic ancestry. Their forbidden love is played out against the larger historical context of the fighting.
Where to start with the film's flaws? Most key actors are miscast Pacino has been criticised enough already, but Kinski fares little better as the renegade aristocrat while Donald Sutherland is hopelessly lost as a ruthless English soldier with a wobbly Yorkshire accent. Robert Dillon's script is muddled in its attempts to bring massive historical events down to a personal level. At no point does anyone seem to have decided whether this is meant to be an intimate character study with the American Revolution as a backdrop, or an epic war film with a handful of sharply drawn characters used to carry the story along. As a result, the narrative falls into no man's land, flitting from "grand spectacle" to "small story" indiscriminately and meaninglessly. John Corigliano's score is quite ghastly, and is poured over the proceedings with neither thought nor subtlety. Hugh Hudson's direction is clumsy throughout, both in his mismanagement of Pacino and the other key actors, and in the decision to use irritatingly shaky camera work during the action sequences. The idea of the hand-held camera is to create immediacy that feeling of "being there" in the confusion of battle and musket fire. Like so many other things in the film, it doesn't work. The one department where the film regains a modicum of respectability is the period detail, with costumes, sets and weaponry that look consistently accurate. But if it's period detail you're interested in a trip to the museum would be a better way to spend your time, because as a rousing cinematic experience Revolution doesn't even begin to make the grade. Nothing more than a £18,000,000 mega-bomb that the ailing British film industry could ill afford in the mid-1980s.
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